I remember when we first met…
It was a cool dark evening, the waves broke in what seemed perfect harmony. She approached us from behind, her black coat shimmered as she greeted us with her unique smile.
We were on the way to a beach bonfire, it was rumoured that there was live music and for Montañita standards it was to be a tranquil gathering.
She followed us over the sand and watched us dance and mingle while she laid in the sand watching over us like an Egyptian princess.
When the night ended we splashed through the rising tide. We then passed out in hammocks, the sand, on the bus and in tents. When we awoke she was still in camp lying peacefully on the gravel.
Over time we learned the small intricacies of her diet; she hates raw chicken, only will eat table food if you put it to her lips, she dislikes dry food but enjoys warm cuerro. Most of all she loves tuna.
When it was time for us to part ways we said our goodbyes and boarded The Gypsy Train heading north. Being no good at letting go she chased us through the streets and up the hill. The bus was a hum with argument, to invite her aboard or not?
Matthias was most adamant on accepting her into the Gypsy lifestyle. ¨If we do not take her I think I will die, this is the only time I have disagreed with the Gypsy Train. We need this dog¨ he proclaimed.
So the next day we drove back to Montañita and found her in the street. She quickly jumped on board and we were off. Within the first 5 minutes she puked. We let her off, she walked in a circle, peed and jumped back onboard. It was the only time she ever made a mess on the bus.
Over the next few months, Matthias and Monkey grew close. They fought off Great Danes, ran down beaches, ate anti-parasite medication and antibiotics together, climbed through gorges, explored jungles and kept each other warm on cold mountain nights. They quickly became best friends.
Everyone who jumped on the bus fell in love with Monkey, even Tom found it in his heart to love ¨that dog¨.
She never ventured far and would come running to the sound of our diesel engine cranking to life. At times she would run off to visit other dogs or gringos but would quickly lose interest and come bounding back.
Over the last month she became a staple guest at the Grinn House Hostel. She had her own bed, she was given undivided attention and she quickly became known, even to the street people, as a member of the Mariscal community.
It seems that the friendly demeanour and popularity lead to her loss of membership with The Gypsy Train.
Alaena and I were sitting in the TV room of the Grinn when Edwin, our friend and evening hostel caretaker, came into the room. I need you guys downstairs he said in a serious tone.
When we got there two gringos were outside the gate talking to Monkey as if she was an infant in annoyingly high-pitch voices calling her Laila.
After hours of discussion, skyping, swapping of photos and endless calls it was determined that Monkey or Laila, indeed belonged to a man named Dan.
He lost her when he was away from Montiñita. He came back to his pizza shop and his dog Laila was missing. Over the last 3 months he has been hoping to find her. Fate so had it that his friends were just walking by the Grinn and saw her playing in the courtyard.
Dan will be in Quito on Thursday to confirm Monkey is indeed Laila. Until then we will be walking her, giving her cuerro and tuna while saying our goodbyes.
Monkey is an amazing dog and we will miss her immensely on the Gypsy Train. I can only hope that she lives out her life, smiling, eating out of tourist hands and running down the beach in search of the next party.